I Don’t Like Tumblr

At the risk of sounding old and out of touch, I’m going to admit that I don’t like Tumblr.

Why not? Their commenting system is essentially non-existent. On Tumblr, whenever someone posts something that’s wrong or should be clarified, it’s easy for other people to repost it, but hard to correct it or clarify it or comment on it.

As far as I can tell, the only way to leave a comment is to create your own account, repost the original post and then write a comment on your own post. But the problem with this is that reposting it means it shows up on your own tumblr account. If other people are following your tumblr, they see it come up as a full-post on your own blog. Sometimes you don’t want your comments to show up as a full post (not because you’re embarrassed about your comment, but simply because it isn’t significant enough to repost for your own blog-followers). This especially becomes a problem if you have a lot of followers. Imagine if you have a thousand followers and you want to leave a small comment on some tiny blog about something they posted. Now you’ve got a full post on your own blog. It’s a terrible system. Great for reposting, bad for adding new information to an existing post.

Here’s an example I ran across today. It’s not hugely flawed. It’s not some post about gun-control or politics or religion or homeopathy – something that would make people want to leave a comment. It’s just a post about the movie “Airplane”.

“And as I was passing time watching the classic film, Airplane, which came out in 1980 (and is very funny), I noted some small differences in flying in 1980 versus today:

actual silverware
actual tableware (plates and glasses)
options for meals
leg room
people dressed up to fly
smoking on airplanes (there really used to be smoking sections on planes, people)
It was by no means a golden age, but planes weren’t quite yet the busses that fly that they are today.”

I first impulse was to link to an NPR story I had heard a while back. The story talked about how, back in the ‘glory days’ of Airlines, the US government regulated prices. This meant that prices were high and airlines competed by offering extras – full meals, first-class service, etc. When government regulation of airlines ended, the airlines ended up competing more on price than quality of service (because everyone kept jumping at the lowest-price fare). The result is what we have today: lower prices and lower service. Airlines might’ve had better service, but you were going to pay more for it.

Before 1978, life for the legacy airlines was pretty sweet. The government set ticket prices. If regulators didn’t think airlines were making enough money, ticket prices would be allowed to rise. Instead of competing to offer the lowest ticket prices, the airlines offered more and more amenities things like bigger seats. Some 747s even had piano bars.

NPR: Why Airlines Keep Going Bankrupt

Heck, some airlines even had a piano bar.

Alas, tumblr only allows me to leave this comment if I have a tumblr blog and repost it with my comment. Even then, it can quickly be overlooked because tumblr doesn’t treat comments like they are important. If I repost and write a long comment, only the first 200 characters or so will show up on the original post. So, the repost-and-comment method means that I can only leave a truncated comment. People can only read my full comment if they click on the link (so make sure those 200 characters are awesome enough to make people want to click). It’s almost like tumblr thought the whole “Web 2.0” thing of leaving comments on blogs was a mistake; that two-way communication instead of unidirectional, TV-like communication was a error made in the early, naive years of the Internet.

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